Cleaning out your rain gutters can be a tedious chore, but it’s a necessary one because of the importance of keeping them free of debris to protect your home. Dirty gutters and downspouts can lead to flooding and water damage to your house, foundation and walls – so you should clean them at least every spring and fall, and more often if you live in a stormy region or under a lot of tree cover.

Rain gutter - Cleaning

Unless you’re not comfortable on top of a ladder and would prefer to hire someone, here are ten easy steps to keep your gutters clean and redirect all rain flow away from your home.

10 Steps to Cleaning Your Rain Gutters


1. Safety First

You never know what bacteria or hazards are lurking in your gutters, so be sure to protect yourself. Wear thick gloves, safety goggles and a dust mask.

2. Begin Near A Downspout

Use a stepladder for safety if you can and position yourself by a downspout. If your home is tall enough to require an extension ladder, place a 2×4 in the section of gutter you’re working on to protect it. It’s helpful to have a bucket or garbage bag with you to collect debris, or place a drop cloth under your working area for easier cleanup.

3. Remove Debris

Using a trowel or plastic scoop (never your hands), begin shoveling debris into your refuse container and work your way down the gutter.

4. Flush with a Hose

There may be finer materials left behind, or particularly sticky gunk, so flush your gutter from the farthest end with a pressurized hose. Try to avoid splattering the side of your house. If you notice some spots aren’t floating away, scrub them with a stiff brush before flushing the gutter again. If the water is backing up at the downspout, you may have a clog.

5. Detach the Pipe

To start cleaning your downspout, you’ll want to detach the pipe if it runs underground to prevent pushing the clog further.

6. Remove the Clog

Use one of two methods. Start by trying to loosen the blockage by running a pressurized hose up the downspout with the water on. If that doesn’t work, use a plumber’s snake to remove it.

7. Reattach the Pipe

Make sure to do so securely to prevent leaks.

8. Rinse the Downspout

From the top of the gutter, run water through the downspout to clean it out and ensure the clog is removed.

9. Clean or Install Strainers

If you have them, now is the time to clean the strainers to your downspout to prevent future clogs. If you do not, consider installing them. They’ll help to keep large debris from blocking the pipe.

10. Regular Maintenance

While you are rinsing your gutters, check the water flow. If you notice standing water or that it’s not draining quickly, the slope may be off. The gutter should drop ¼ inches every 10 ft. If you don’t see any visible damage or missing parts, work section by section and detach the hangers, adjust the slope to drain properly, then reattach. Be sure to look for leaks as well as with each storm that passes. Gutters can also rust. If you notice paint chipping or leaks through the metal, replace the faulty section with a new one.


Inspired to clean out the debris from your rain gutters? Want a professional to take care of it instead of doing it yourself? Use our instant estimate tool to get a price in seconds and find certified professional in your area. Get a price. Get a pro. Get it done.


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About the Author: is a full-service home remodeling and construction general contractor serving the greater Seattle, Denver, Phoenix, San Francisco, San Jose and San Diego area. Home improvement is hard, and we make it easier for you every step of the way. That starts by understanding your goals, whether it’s making a space more livable, expanding your home, repairing damage, adding room for relatives, or something completely different. We’ll work with you to ensure you’re happy with the project from start to finish.